It’s a shame how our government officials have allowed the police departments to be decimated. Portland’s surge in traffic fatalities (Associated Press, Nov. 30) is one more bad result of a defund-the-police ideology. Evidently, Mayor Ted Wheeler has seen the light and has authorized 200 sworn officers and 100 unarmed “public safety specialists.” I doubt the specialists will enforce traffic laws. PPB had a legitimate traffic-enforcement unit; it’s now practically defunct. To Sgt. Ty Engstrom, I say, hang in there. Common sense will prevail sooner or later.
There is a traffic-enforcement principle called the “halo effect,” which was recognized many years ago. It is “the effect on driver behavior beyond the point and time when enforcement is applied. It was found that the use of a speed enforcement scene, a speed check zone, or a patrol vehicle produces substantial and significant reductions in mean, median, and 85th percentile speeds” (“Evaluation of the Halo Effect in Speed Detection and Enforcement,” 1976).
The above observations are still valid. While the muscle cars are mostly gone, the irresponsible driving that results in death, injuries and property loss is alive and well. It will take about a year to get the street cops up and running. In the meantime, traffic enforcement goes begging.